The Hastings Board of Education announced on June 13 that it hired 61-year-old William McKersie as interim superintendent for the 2021-22 school year. He will begin his term on Aug. 1. Assistant Superintendent Melissa Szymanski will serve as interim superintendent for the month of July, following the departure of Superintendent Valerie Henning-Piedmonte on June 30.
Henning-Piedmonte announced her intent to retire on March 18. She is leaving two years into a three-year contract. The district began looking for an interim superintendent, conducting their fourth superintendent search in five years.
“As is customary in interim superintendent searches, we did not use a search firm or search committee,” board member Silvia Robles told the Enterprise. “As a courtesy, several search firms that the district has used in the past provided us with a list of retired and seasoned superintendents who would be interested in a one-year interim appointment. We interviewed three strong candidates and chose Dr. McKersie.”
McKersie joins Hastings from the 2,309-student Weston School District in Connecticut, where he became superintendent in 2016. Weston High School was ranked 354th by U.S. News and World Report in 2021, compared with Hastings High School, which was ranked 258th nationally. Weston High was ranked third among Connecticut high schools.
“My essential role as a leader is fostering a community of students, faculty, and families to embrace intellectual rigor and compassion,” McKersie wrote in a statement supplied to the Hastings Board of Education. “The embrace must be coherent and cohesive, such that children and adolescents evolve into adults, who, with wisdom, care, and openness, have the capacity and commitment to be world citizens and problem-solvers in ethical and inclusive ways.”
A native of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, McKersie was the product of an academic family and spent his adolescent years in Ithaca, N.Y. He received a bachelor’s degree in social psychology from Tufts, a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. From the University of Chicago. He also has state and national coaching licensures in soccer. His first job was as an administrator and coach at Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in Massachusetts, from 1981 to 1985.
McKersie lives in Greenwich, Conn., with his wife, Katherine, and children Riona, 13, and Arabella, 7, who both attend Greenwich public schools. He also has two older sons, Liam, 24, and Max, 21. Before joining the Weston School District, McKersie served as the superintendent of Greenwich schools from 2012-2016. In Greenwich, he oversaw all educational, organizational, and financial aspects of the school system, which has more than 8,000 students.
“In both districts, Dr. McKersie equally championed the arts and athletics,” the Hastings Board of Education statement noted.
Prior to his time in Greenwich, he was associate superintendent for academic excellence for the Archdiocese of Boston from 2008-12, where he provided strategic direction for a system of 122 parochial schools. He served as associate dean for development and alumni relations at the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 2004-2008. His prior posts were in the fields of educational administration and educational philanthropy. He has also served as an educational policy consultant for various educational organizations, foundations and commissions.